15 July 2009

Google is our friend!

Writing in Ancestry Magazine, my colleague Howard Wolinsky speaks about his recent discoveries using the popular search engine in "Google, Genealogy, and You."

You don’t need a degree in computer science or a class in electrical engineering to find out a few new details about your genealogy. Access to Google is all it takes.

My father gave me two clues about family history when I was teenager in the 1960s. First, Wolinsky was not our original family name. It was Schrogin. Second, our family originated in Lithuania.

That was about all he knew. And his father, Henry, for whom I was named, was long dead.

But those tips have led me time and again to new findings, even when I felt there was nothing more to be found.
Howard mentions reading Dan Lynch's recent book, "Google Your Family Tree: Unlock the Hidden Power of Google" (which I call the new Bible of Online Genealogy) and adds his insight as to the resources detailed.

While many bloggers and journalists including Howard, use Google News Service, Lynch inspired him to check out Google News Archive and provides records (some free, some not) over 200 years.

I plugged in the family name Schrogin and found items from newspapers to magazines and legal documents dating back to 1918, arranged in a timeline. Among the items was a piece about a Schrogin who had been implicated by the infamous House Committee on Un-American Activities, known as HUAC, which investigated the “Hollywood Ten.”

This was a news flash to me. So I shot off an e-mail to my cousin Maxim Schrogin in Berkeley. I connected with Maxim in the 1970s after searching the phone directories in the University of Michigan library for Schrogins. Maxim and I were both budding genealogists, and, at the time, we hadn’t met.
He also plugs (using specific examples of each) Google Alerts, providing links to all your interests (and which Tracing the Tribe has used since its inception), Google Maps, Google Earth, Google’s powerful language tools and Google Books.

Dan Lynch also writes a blog detailing newer Google features and how they can help researchers.

Read Howard's complete article to see what he discovered and how.

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